We all realise that at times, public transport can be much more environmentally friendly because it can transport a large number of people at any one time, however, practicalities dictate that public transport is not always the best option depending on certain factors. It is therefore important that when driving a vehicl, we should do our best to ensure we drive as safely and economically as possible.
Here are some driving techniques that will help reduce CO2 emissions.
Under-inflated tyres create more rolling resistance when your car is moving which means your engine has to work harder, therefore, more fuel is used and more CO2 emissions are produced. Check and adjust your tyre pressures regularly, this will also help to increase the life of your tyres. When checking your tyre pressures do so when the tyre is cold as this will be more accurate. Under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption and CO2, but over-inflated tyres can be unsafe due to having less grip. Tyres that are not correctly inflated will also wear out quickly or become damaged, again costing more money to replace. Finally a car with a heavier load may need different air pressure in the tyres as well as a car driving at motorway speeds over long distances, so ensure you read your car manual for the correct tyre pressures.
The more a vehicle weighs the more work the engine has to do. By removing unnecessary weight you could reduce your engine's workload; this will burn less fuel and cut your CO2 emissions. Unload any items you do not need for your journey before you set out, such as roof racks, storage boxes and files. Also keeping your fuel tank constantly full to the brim will greatly increase fuel consumption. A vehicle with a 60-80 litre tank which is full weighs the equivalent of an additional 10-13 stone person in your vehicle. In an urban environment, you will normally never be more than 20 minutes from a petrol station so if it is only short journeys you do, just fill the tank ¼ full. For long journeys and on motorways you must ensure you have enough fuel for your journey.
Speed limits are the maximum lawful speeds which may be driven in ideal circumstances, drivers must never exceed the speed limit, staying at or within the speed limit increases safety for us all. Driving at a steady constant speed also reduces CO2 emissions and saves money on your fuel costs. At 70mph you could be using up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more fuel than at 50mph. Safety must always remain paramount; therefore driving at 40mph to save fuel but causing traffic to be held up when it is legal and safe to drive faster is dangerous and must be avoided as it may cause the drivers behind to overtake in an unsafe position. Driving far too slowly for the conditions may also be illegal.
Every time you come to a halt and move off again in traffic queues and traffic lights, the engine uses more fuel and therefore produces more CO2. Keep an eye on the traffic ahead, anticipate and slow down early by gently lifting your foot off the accelerator whilst keeping the car in gear, use your mirrors early too and gently press the brake so the drivers behind see your brake lights. By decelerating earlier the traffic lights may change or the traffic ahead may have started moving by the time you reach the vehicle in front meaning you stop less. The mark of a good driver is someone that anticipates ahead and only stops the car when it is really necessary; however, if you have to stop and wait then you must do so.
If you do need to stop and wait, the longer you remain stationary with the engine idling, the more fuel you will use, this will increase the CO2 emissions. If you're likely to be at a standstill for more than 3 minutes, such as level crossings or in heavy traffic simply switch off the engine, an engine that is idling for 5 minutes uses the same amount of fuel as a 1km drive. Restarting the engine will not use more fuel as some people may think.
Modern car engines are designed to be efficient from the moment they are switched on, so revving the engine only wastes fuel and increases engine wear and CO2 emissions. Always use the highest gear available for the road and traffic conditions as well as the power requirements of the situation. Modern vehicles and gears are designed to accommodate block or selective changes both up and down through the gears; the need to change through the gears consecutively is not needed normally. Changing from 2nd gear to 4th gear, 3rd to 5th or 2nd to 5th when appropriate will not only reduce the number of gear changes needed during the journey, it will also reduce wear and tear on the clutch mechanism as well, therefore prolonging the life of this item. Changing gears in this way will also improve fuel economy by using the higher gear earlier. Changing up too early will be detrimental to fuel economy because you will need to accelerate harder to make the progress and it will take longer to reach the speed you require.
Utilise Cruise Control whenever possible. In modern vehicles, Cruise Control can be used as low as 18-22 mph. When at a constant speed, the computer and engine management system can control the rate of fuel being injected into the engine much better than your right foot, which will always have slight fluctuations. Again only use driving aids like these when safe to do so.
Air conditioning is sometimes seen as an enemy of full economy, however in hot weather, keeping your windows open whist driving at speed will actually increase your fuel consumption due to the drag co-efficiency. As the air flows into the car it will be trapped by the rear window and will have a parachute effect, meaning you need to use more gas to sustain the higher speed. In these conditions using the air conditioning can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 8% over a vehicle with open windows.
Finally, have your driving assessed. It may have been some years since you past your test, which may have been taken in a vehicle with technology that did not match today’s modern engines. The skills you were taught at the time, and have developed ever since you passed were probably correct at the time. Technologies and techniques change, ensure your driving techniques match the needs of your modern vehicle.
With one of our specially structured training sessions you will have your present driving technique assessed over a predetermined route and your fuel economy will be recorded. You will then receive advice, guidance and a demonstration from your advance instructor. You will then complete the route again and your fuel economy will be recorded again. The second run should, depending on road and traffic conditions, show an improvement in fuel consumption and a reduction in CO2 emissions. On average, participants have not only recorded a fuel saving of around 5-8% on the second run, but have also reduced the amount of gear changes by as much as 35% and increased their average speed by 5mph without breaking speed limits yet still remaining safe.
For individuals this will be a substantial saving when implemented over a 12 month period. For companies and fleet managers, expenditure will be reduced and this will also dramatically help your company reach the government target to reduce CO2 emissions leaving less need for carbon off-setting.
To book an individual training session in one of our vehicles or to arrange a non-obligation appointment to discuss our services, your company’s and fleet drivers needs please call us.
Our specialist training providers look forward to meeting you.